A play in counterpoint


The Dream Train was Magnetic North's debut in Autumn 1999. Commissioned by the company from legendary Scottish playwright and musician Tom McGrath, the play took its form from Bach's Goldberg Variations and its character from the two recordings of them by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould - the first young and brash, the second older and profound.

"In a castle somewhere on Scotland's east coast, a moth-eaten baron obsessed with the music of Bach struggles to sleep. He is tended by a strange androgynous figure, sometimes the young 18th century pianist Goldberg, sometimes a beautiful young girl who seems to love him; meanwhile, on a train lumbering up the same coast, the baron's beautiful but ageing wife meets an intensely attractive young man heading for the same station. For 90 minutes this quartet of characters weave their way in and out of one another's dreams and realities."

Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman


Written by  Tom McGrath
Director Nicholas Bone
Designer Emily Couper
Lighting Designer Renny Robertson
Music J.S.Bach
The Baron David Gallacher (1999) / Simon Scott (2000)
Laura Mary McCusker
Chris Derek McGhie
Goldberg / Julie / Tina Lynne Edmonstone

Production opened at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, November 1999, a revised version opened at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, September 2000

Original production supported by Scottish Arts Council, Awards for All and The Peggy Ramsay Foundation


"captures perfectly that surreal moment between sleeping and waking...a strong debut"
The Herald (1999)
"Beautifully directed"
The Scotsman (2000)
"Sad, beautiful, purposeful, and, in a playful kind of way, very grown up"
The Scotsman (1999)
I felt as though I had been sucked into a visual representation of the Goldberg Variations themselves, magically transformed into language and physical gesture"
The Herald (2000)